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Tag: #Motivation

Will the journey ever get easier?

Will the journey ever get easier?

No path worth traveling is ever straight. It is full of twists and turns. Excuse me. Unexpected twists and turns. There will be a variety of lessons along the way that will force you to grow. If not, you will continue to repeat the lesson. I am speaking from experience.
Relationships

Branding

Entrepreneurship

Accounting

Friendships

Coaches

Professional Development

Social Media

All of the above take work, hard work.  Work isn’t always easy. It can be uncomfortable, frustrating, heartbreaking, and depressing at times.

Well, when does it get easier?

Every day. Every day it gets easier. Every day that you decide not to give up it gets easier, because you are one step closer to making your dreams come true.

I am my own worst critic. I’ll admit that.

I remember Tyler Perry saying at a conference a couple of years ago that he’s a perfectionist. Some of his projects/plays/movies would have never been released because he was constantly revising the script. He had to realize that there will always be things that we want to change, but it’s wise to give everything our best and let God do the rest.

We have to stick to the script. The script may change a bit but drastic changes on our own can be detrimental to our growth.

I had to sit last week out for the Final 48 Project. I was BUMMED!

Here’s the #PlotTwist

The same day I was scheduled to post a new story was also the day that I met with my new mentor. I realized God had me rest from my regularly scheduled program to be advised and regroup so that I could be able to deliver more life changing content.

No one said it would be easy, but everyday it gets much easier.

Don’t give up!

Xoxo,
R.J.

P.S. Be sure to check out Final 48 Project tomorrow, and read some of the past stories.

The struggle is REAL!

The struggle is REAL!

We’ve talked about my struggle with my weight the last year or so. My weight has been up and down since I left Houston in 2013. Living in Dallas packed on the pounds once it was too hot to jog outdoors. So, around this time last year I would say I had given up on my active lifestyle. 

I feel as though that last paragraph was full of excuses. We often times drum up excuses to get away from things that we know are best for us. Maybe it’s the fear of change, and that uncomfortable zone that appears when change is happening. 

Waking up at 4:45 am is not fun. At the gym by 5:30, and the only thing I think about while working out is how did I allow myself to gain all this weight. Well, the weight is here, and it has received its eviction notice. 

December 31st I hopped on the scale, and recorded my current weight. I shared it with you all on the site, so check it out when you have time. I jumped on the scale a few months ago, and noticed an increase of 2 pounds. I was irritated. What was I doing wrong? I’m faithfully going to the gym, and I’m gaining weight!

I had to reevaluate my eating, and then it hit me. I’m not losing pounds but I’m losing inches. People were telling me I was losing weight, but I assumed they were being nice. I’ll admit with my traveling schedule I wasn’t always eating right, so I know that didn’t help. 

This morning I was in a bit of a funk, and I don’t know why I thought weighing myself would make me feel better. Well…IT DID!

I’m officially down 10 pounds since my last weigh-in, and even more motivated to keep going. I can use this weight loss/healthy me journey as the blueprint of my life right now. The road will not be easy, but it will be worth it. You have to hang in there for what you truly want, and what you feel deep down inside that you deserve. I deserve to live a long, happy, healthy, and prosperous life. 

As my trainer would say #DearSummer

Which means…I have my goal in sight, and I’m coming for you!
Xoxo,

R.J.

The Blueprint: The importance of HERstory. Stay Lit and March 4th!

The Blueprint: The importance of HERstory. Stay Lit and March 4th!

I love when this day comes around every year. Say it aloud, “March Forth.” Move forward. How does that statement resonate with you? For me, it motivates me to keep pushing to the next level of my dreams.

We are almost ninety (Yes 90) days into the new year and how are we doing with our goals for 2016? I’ve been reflecting on the goals I have on my vision board, and I’ve made progress. Don’t get me wrong, I still have a lot of work to do.

We went from Black History Month to Women’s History Month. Can we agree that last month was jam packed with greatness?! I know that this month will be no different. I mean Hello, March is the month for movement. It’s instructing us that everything we’ve worked for is requiring us to act on it.

March…March…March

This week I reflected on my interaction with Mrs. Amelia Boynton Robinson. She was the matriarch and activist behind the Civil Rights Movement and marches in Selma, Alabama.  When she was on tour last year (at 103 years old) I was given the opportunity to edit a video for her to be placed in her personal archives.

I thought about the strength of Ms. Amelia. She was in her fifties when she was apart of  the fight for equality in Alabama. When I listened to her speak in an intimate venue last year she repeated the one thing that continued to keep her going.

Faith.

Faith without works is dead, right?  It all starts with faith. The faith that this thing is gonna happen. If it aligns with God’s will, it’s gotta work!

She was brutally attacked on March 7, 1965 (Bloody Sunday), in Selma during a march for voting rights in Alabama.  After the attack I’m sure that would have stopped the average person.  Ms. Amelia was far from average.  She was determined to keep the faith until things changed.

Have you seen the movie Selma, directed by Ava Duvernay?  Ms. Amelia is played by Lorraine Toussaint in the movie.  If you haven’t checked it out please do so this weekend.  Thank me later.  😉

On this day what will you do different to make a change in your life?  I’m holding myself accountable and taking notes from the blueprint that Ms. Amelia has left behind.

 

From Victim to Victorious: Falling in love with a burn survivor

From Victim to Victorious: Falling in love with a burn survivor

Out of all the topics that I’ve discussed this is definitely the hardest. Now, there will be some things shared here that are exclusive to my personal archives. Viewer discretion is advised.

Just got paid. It’s Friday night. I decided to go from shoulder length hair to a bob cut. I would say a good 4 inches of my hair was on the floor at the beauty shop. I was FREE! I was ready for a weekend in Charlotte, NC with my girls for the annual CIAA tournament activities. It was our first year, we were single, and ready to paint the town red.

We mingled with people in the lobby of our hotel, laughed all night with strangers, and even marched the streets of downtown Charlotte in 4-inch heels. We had the time of our life.

Back to work and school on Monday. I walked into work feeling like a new woman. I worked late on Tuesday, said my “good nights” to every one, hopped in my car and made my commute from Durham to Raleigh. I didn’t show up for work on Wednesday morning.

I got home Tuesday night exhausted. I had homework and I needed to eat. I decided to cook a quick meal and call it a night. I placed the pot on the stove, had a seat on the couch, and snapped a few selfies.

I dozed off.

I woke up to smoke, and then flames. I panicked. I grabbed the pot of hot grease, and ran to the door. Too late! The damage was done. It was raining outside so of course grease and water doesn’t mix. Next thing I know the pot falls from the second floor balcony and flames engulfed the stair well. I shielded my eyes with my left arm, and ran back inside of my apartment.

I didn’t call 9-1-1. I called my friend Shanita. I was numb. I stood in the bathroom, and ran my fingers through my singed hair. My hair was transferring from my fingertips to the floor. Shanita picked me up and took me to the hospital. In her words, “it smelled as if you cooked the whole way there.”

Shanita would have to make the phone call to my family and friends about my condition. To this day she says that’s one of the hardest things she’s ever had to do.

After hours of not being able to move I finally wobbled to the bathroom after the suggestion of not looking in the mirror. I did it anyway. I needed to see what the road looked like ahead. I thought, “eh, I’ll be okay.”

 

My features began to transform over night. I took the above photo(s) because I believe in results and of course I’m a visual person. Very visual. I needed those photos during the recovery process to prove to myself that God had this situation under control.

I was in therapy 3-4 days a week for mobility in my right hand and my leg. Changing my own bandages, and sleeping most of the day.

My support system though. My God. My mom and sister were there during my entire hospital stay. My friends were delivering food to my family while I suffered with hospital food. My brother was receiving updates from my father (who arrived the day I was discharged). Everyone had a position, and I’m still blown away by their love and support.

The therapy wasn’t the hardest part. I had to learn to love again. I was a new person. Falling in love is hard, but loving yourself after a traumatic experience is harder.

When you’re faced with insensitive questions you become very defensive. I know I did. “Well, what were you doing trying to deep fry your hand?” Or, “Well you know you could’ve put floor or sugar on it to put the fire out.” Until you’ve experienced the shock of something like that, YOU have no room to judge. Those questions crushed my pride and self-esteem. Yes, I understand I didn’t think clearly in the moment but who would? I was exhausted and delirious. Imagine trying to adjust to having NO HAIR, spots on your face, and a glove that someone asks “what happened?” every five minutes of your “new” life. You can grow even thicker skin to deal with it or you become a recluse. A lot of burn survivors prefer the latter. There were times I wanted to go in hiding, but my personal care giver (Aka my dad) wouldn’t let me do that.

Years later I realized that this whole experience was not about me. When I tell you it strengthened the relationship with my dad and I, I mean my God it did. He brought his clippers with him from Michigan to North Carolina and shaved my hair so it was even. He kept reassuring me that my hair would grow back.

The faith walk wasn’t just for me, it was for my dad too. He was able to witness the transformation of my face. He was BLOWN AWAY. I would hear him in the other room on the phone, “Man, when I got here she looked pretty bad leaving the hospital. She’s looking better and better everyday. Up walking around, and her color is coming back. I mean, man, it’s unbelievable.”

Weeks after the hospital discharge.

God did that. My faith was shook, but my dad’s was questionable. He witnessed a miracle happening before his very eyes.

Loving myself after becoming a burn survivor was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. If I could go back to March 2, 2010 and change what happened, would I?

Answer: Nope.

That experience blessed me with three things: Strengthened my faith, learned how to love beyond the physical, and a priceless relationship with my father.

Back to work. Months later…Glowing!

So, on the 6th anniversary (or BURNiversary) of a life changing event, I am encouraged to keep going. The hedge of protection is real, and God ain’t finished with me yet.

P.S. My hair grew back. 💁🏽

#SteeleThankful

Yes, I’m judging…

Yes, I’m judging…

How was your Christmas? Great I hope! My family doesn’t exchange physical gifts. We eat, laugh, and watch movies all day. I say, it’s Christmas all year long, I enjoy the fellowship more than any gifts. So, I’m not judging if you participate in gift exchanges. 
My mom and I were talking over the weekend about judgment. Honestly, our conversation began at 4 am when she’s bright eyed, full of wisdom, and has the potential to spill over into breakfast. I’m always joking about living in a #NoJudgmentZone but am I really living that way?
My mom was a greeter at her last church. She would be the first face that you saw when you walked through the door. She took pride in treating everyone the same. I mean we were all there for the same purpose, right?
I was convicted when my mom said, “in order to clean a fish you must catch it first.” What area of my life was I too judgmental? I’m sure there’s an easier way to approach sensitive conversations, but do we take the time to talk to people instead of instantly judging them?
I’ve joked before about saying, “Yes, I’m judging.” I think we all subconsciously judge. Whether you admit it or not, we do it. I’m working on loving more, judging less, and if I don’t agree with something to leave it at “my opinion.” 
We can’t force people to live the lives that we want them to live. Everyone’s walk is different. If we constantly lead with a judgmental spirit what do we expect to receive in return?
I am reminded of my first friendship ever. He lived on the same street as me, and years later revealed to me that he was gay. He told me that growing up he knew that my family was aware of his preference but they NEVER judged and he was still invited into our home. Even though I had no idea growing up, he was my friend and nothing else mattered to me. We are still close friends to this day. 
The next time we decide to frown at the gay couple walking into the church, the homeless man asking for change, or the woman that’s strolling at night, let’s think about their story, and how their story can impact another’s life, and help them in the process.

Day 19 – “Siblings” #SteeleThankful Challenge (30 Days of Thanks)

Day 19 – “Siblings” #SteeleThankful Challenge (30 Days of Thanks)

Who’s the baby of their family? Anyone the baby out there? You know the baby gets away with everything. So, they say. Well, I would say that we had some friendly competition growing up. Oh no, not with sports. More like academics. Grades were important, dad didn’t play about those grades. He would come to your classroom and embarrass you, NO LIE! I’m a witness.

It’s throwback Thursday right? That’s me in the middle, my sister on the right and my brother is on the left. I’m the baby or “kid” sister and they will never let you or me forget it. Let me tell you about these two. They are the reason I even graduated. No, seriously. I mean my parents were examples of hard working, tax paying citizens. Oh but these two. I had to grind to keep up.
My brother received a bachelor’s degree in less than 4 years. I said umm yeah I’m not doing that. My sister wanted to get a master’s degree. I said how about I just celebrate your moment, and I did. Then my brother got his Juris Doctor degree. I said oh they showing out.

So, I was in limbo about finishing my masters degree and my brother asks, “what do you want to do with your life?” At that point I wanted to survive. I’m glad I had that question to reflect on cause I was lost, honestly I felt defeated. That question honestly helped me pursue my dreams. I realized I wanted to be happy, and doing what others wanted me to do wasn’t going to cut it. My sister has been my biggest cheerleader during this journey. I appreciate her more than she knows. She gave me the final push to go back to North Carolina and finish my degree.

You know what’s really amazing though, we all had our own paths and no one can take that from us. Not once do I remember either of them complaining about it. Not once. They just knew it had to be done. That inspired me, honestly it still does. I’m #SteeleThankful for their model leadership in my life. They inspired me to not apologize for taking a different path in life, because that path has lead to my purpose and passion. Being the baby/kid sister of these two isn’t so bad after all.

What are you #SteeleThankful for?

Day 16 – “Love” #SteeleThankful Challenge (30 Days of Thanks)

Day 16 – “Love” #SteeleThankful Challenge (30 Days of Thanks)

When you look at your calendar and notice that you are on Day 16,  and decided that the topic would be “Love.”  **Begins singing Love by Musiq Soulchild**  Am I ready to talk about the four letter word?

I’ve experienced love before, a time or two.  I even thought I was close to marriage, and then I realized it wasn’t love.  Someone once told me that you can be in love with the thought of a person, and not the person.  That statement changed the way I looked at love.  I opened up about how I witnessed true love as an adult in one of my first interviews.  You can listen to that podcast here.

My iPod is full of 90s R&B music.  I believe in love, not just for myself, but for those around me.  This year, I was able to be apart of two weddings, in May and September.  Being able to see the two relationships blossom was something that I needed to witness to reassure me that love was still possible.

I learned a long time ago that you can tell whomever you want, whatever you want especially when it comes to love.  The real test comes when you apply action.  My father was never really big on uttering the four letter word.  One of his strongest attributes was being a provider.  Sometimes I felt as if he believed what’s understood doesn’t need to be explained.

I can remember standing at the bus stop in college, and I was on the phone with my dad.  He was never big on having long phone conversations.  He said what he had to say and concluded the call.  This particular day I had to hit the pause button. I had to stop him and tell him that as his daughter I needed to hear that he loved me more.  I needed to hear it from my father even though I NEVER felt as though he didn’t love me, I just wanted to hear it.  I recognized in that moment that I needed to speak up about how I wanted to be treated, and it had to start with my father.

Can I be honest with you?  It was hard for me to say I love you first, to anyone.  Rejection was probably the reason.  What if this person that I said it to, didn’t say it back?  Reality set in and I realized it was hurting me more by not letting others know that I love them, and to stop looking for someone to always return the favor.

I’ll admit I’m a hopeless romantic at times.  That Love Jones, BrownSugar, Love & Basketball kind of love story that melts your heart and reminds you about the various avenues of love. I’m #SteeleThankful for true love and the heartbreak lessons I’ve experienced along the way.  Those moments have allowed me to receive the power of the four letter word…Love.

What are you #SteeleThankful for?

(L-R) Dad, Pastor McAfee, Mom 3/6/1976
(L-R) Dad, Pastor McAfee, Mom
Wedding Photo
Will the “REAL” R.J. Please stand up?!

Will the “REAL” R.J. Please stand up?!

There’s a running joke among my friends that I’m really Carmen Sandiego. Despite the fact that the fictional character who I absolutely loved growing up looked nothing like me. My Instagram and Twitter handle was once dedicated to that chapter of my life where I was constantly running. Running from reality…

I’ve always been a private person. I guess it was the way I was raised. Multiple aliases so no one could ever calculate my next move. Then, I thought, I loved the mystery that comes with the persona of Carmen. I began to embrace my reality, and live life without regrets. 

Carmen wore my favorite color (red), and moved strategically with a minimal trace of evidence. She was smart, mysterious, and clearly a world traveler. Even though I retired the handle she still lives within me. Carmen reminded me to chase my dreams, and not apologize for being different.  

To purchase the Real Carmen shirt just click here.

 

Dear TimeHop…

Dear TimeHop…

Dear TimeHop,

 

Where did you come from? Who sent you? I am constantly reminded of my crazy college days, and immature behavior! You have the nerve to even go back 10 years ago. Who remembers what they did last month at the bar, and decided to tweet about it? Well, next year, best believe TimeHop will remind you!

 

Fortunately, I don’t feel that way. On yesterday I was feeling quite blah. You know the feeling of being a professional and all of a sudden wanting to warp back to the days of no responsibility. What did I sign up for? I prayed for this! I prayed for independence, I prayed for the spirit of individuality, and the spirit of endurance. The spirit to endure everything that was before me and to believe that everything was going to work itself out on this journey, that’s what I believed.

 

TimeHop reminded me of the shift I experienced 5 years ago. I was never the type to become emotionally moved by anything. I viewed it as a sign of weakness. On September 21, 2010, I declared to the world on Facebook that I would try my best to become more empathic, and to own my emotional dysfunction. I knew that the young lady that was in a traumatic accident 6 months prior was not going to change overnight so I declared to the world that I was truly going to trust the process. TimeHop is viewed as my capsule of thoughts that I once forgot about but never erased from the digital world.

 

Do I look back on some of my actions or thoughts and get upset? Nope, I had to realize it was all apart of the process. I chose this journey! I choose to decide how to live my life! So, on this Monday, September 21, 2015, I choose life and to live it more abundantly, with no regrets, what ifs, or doubt.

 

 

Loner and a Rebel – A story about a rebellious teenage nerd…

Loner and a Rebel – A story about a rebellious teenage nerd…

I was a recent high school graduate. I believed I had done everything correctly in life. Graduated high school with honors, involved in numerous extracurricular activities, and what I thought ready for the next phase, COLLEGE! My plan was to always graduate and enroll at four-year HBCU (Historically Black College/University). Well, that plan didn’t work. “She’s not ready yet.” I wasn’t ready for a four-year school? Despite knowing that my grades could pretty much guarantee an acceptance letter from the schools of my choosing. “A two-year community college would work best for her right now.” What did I do when I learned that my closest friends were going away to school and I was staying local in my small town that began to feel like a terrible episode of “Cheers,” because of the company I was keeping everybody was starting to know my name?  I REBELLED!

Now, I’ve always loved history. For as far back as I remember. I especially loved learning about historical figures that resembled myself. I remember sitting in a History class at the community college and the professor was jumping on the desk and everything. He was attempting to get the class excited about the subject. The one subject I had grown to love was not exciting for me. Why? I was pissed about my current situation. I was still pissed that my friends were away at school and I was wasting my life away at a community college. I felt worthless, I felt as though everything I worked so hard for in high school was irrelevant. Educators told me to be active, well rounded, that’s what schools look for when applying to universities. That day I decided to walk out and not come back. I had reached my breaking point. Even though the first year was paid for…I didn’t care…I began to rebel. I think I only passed one class that semester. A freshman orientation class was the only positive thing on my transcript after the first semester. I said you know I’ll give it try next semester. Same results. I took a full load (4 or 5 classes) and only passed one class. I still didn’t care.

The next fall semester I was no longer on scholarship and I remember my dad writing a check to the accounting office for all the fees for the semester. I thought okay, I’ll attempt to give a damn, and take this semester seriously. I made an appointment with a guidance counselor. I don’t even remember the woman’s name but I can tell you this if she’s still a counselor at the community college I would love to see her right about now. She sat behind her desk and asked me what my problem was, among other questions but here’s the kicker “WAS I ON DRUGS?” You read that correctly she asked if I was on drugs. I remember being puzzled and not knowing how to respond in a respectful manner so I chose to walk out of her office and never come back. I knew if I stayed a minute longer I would’ve crapped on my family’s good name. I decided to withdraw that semester and flip that school the bird.

Maybe they were right. I wasn’t ready for a four-year university. At the rate I was going I was going to be the nerd from high school that was now employed at the local diner begging for tips and my sanity. So, I had to think what am I going to do now? There was another community college about 20 minutes away. The same community college that my sister attended and received her Associate’s degree. I said I’ve got nothing to lose, let me give it a try. My bright idea to start at this other community college for the Winter semester was genius **insert sarcastic grin** and I didn’t think about traveling an extra 20-25 minutes for classes. I did it though. The guidance counselor I met with came up with a plan of action after looking at my previous college transcripts and my high school transcripts. With a puzzled look on his face, he took a deep breath and asked me, “Okay, please tell me what’s wrong? Why are you unhappy?” I sat in that office and poured my heart out to this man. He assured me that I could bounce back but I have to want this and no four-year school would touch me with grades like before. I told him I was determined and I would produce results. I just had to find my motivation. My motivation was getting the heck away from my hometown. At the end of the Winter semester I was finally able to show my dad a report card. Before, I never produced one, I would always change the subject but this time I hand delivered the mail with my grades in the envelope. I even remember my class schedule from that semester.

 

  1. American History 101
  2. English 101
  3. Psychology 101
  4. World Religion

 

Drum roll please! I managed to receive a 3.75 that semester. I couldn’t believe it myself. I was fighting ole man winter, pride, and others to get those grades. I switched up my circle of friends temporarily to get the job done too. I had a goal and was motivated to complete it. I knew I wanted to move away and I didn’t want anyone or anything standing in the way of me accomplishing it.

I was convinced that if I had a goal, estimated end date, and a little elbow grease that I could be unstoppable. I enrolled in the Spring and Summer semesters after that successful Winter semester and continued to be on a roll. I transferred to a four-year school for the fall semester and thanked my former guidance counselor for doing what he was sent to do in that season of my life. I rebelled earlier on and realized where it would have me, in the same place as a lot of the people I despised to be around.

What happened after you transferred? Well, I received my BA and fast forward to 2014 I finally was able to experience life on an HBCU campus, and graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Master of Library Science – Archives & Records Management Degree.

I still find it in me to rebel from time to time but I’m grateful for the lessons I learned as a teenager, and I’m sure my parents are too!

18 year old - Rebellious Teenager
18 year old – Rebellious Teenager
Grad School Graduation with Award Winning Research Poster
Grad School Graduation with Award Winning Research Poster